Evid Based Nurs 8:125 doi:10.1136/ebn.8.4.125
  • Qualitative

Parents of young people with mental health problems experienced a deskilling and had to learn to reskill themselves

 Q What are the experiences of parents who care for a young person with mental health problems?


Qualitative study using semistructured, indepth interviews.




25 parents (18 mothers, 7 fathers) of 18 young people (13–16 y of age) with mental health problems. All families were white and had various socioeconomic backgrounds.


Parents were interviewed about the following topics: the nature of their child’s problem; relationships with health professionals; implications for their lifestyle, health, employment, and education; impact on the family; and coping. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and analysed qualitatively using an interpretive inductive approach.


Parental deskilling:(1) Not being listened to by the medical profession. Parents felt their role was challenged because they were unfamiliar with mental health problems and had to rely on experts for explanations. When they sought help to overcome their inexperience, it was not always forthcoming, which led to feelings of isolation, abandonment, and self doubt. Their confidence was undermined when they were accused of overreacting to what was considered normal adolescent changes. (2) Helpless parenting. Parents had to negotiate with …

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